In honor of Earth Day having been Monday, I am posting a week’s worth of eco-friendly posts! If you missed yesterday’s post, I wrote about “How to Transition to a Zero Waste Lifestyle.” You can check that out by clicking here. Today, I am sharing 20 swaps for a zero waste life!
Ideally when possible buy in stores that usually buy in bulk to prevent the most second-hand packaging and transportation plastic. Obviously, that isn’t possible for everyone and especially depends where you life. But, by just utilizing some of these swaps when your current products run out, you are helping to create yourself a more sustainable and eco-friendly life which is always a plus! Even if you can only swap out one thing now, you are making a difference.
To prevent this post from getting too long, I am just including 10 swaps. However, I might do a second “part two” in the future. 🙂
Disclaimer: Affiliate links for Amazon are used in this post. I may make a small profit off of anything purchased through one of these links at no cost to you. However, all opinions are my own!
10 Swaps for a Zero Waste Life
1. A French Press
I had never really thought of how much waste that coffee accounts for until recently. Getting coffee when you’re out can mean Styrofoam, plastic or paper cups that usually get tossed in the trash, along with the lid. It also means all the plastic behind the scenes. I was SO surprised by how much waste there was when I was working at Starbucks. In fact, working at Starbucks was one of the first things that pushed me to start thinking about my waste. Even if you make your coffee in your Keurig at home, that’s up to 365+ plastic Keurig cups that are getting thrown out in one home per year.
A French press is the perfect alternative. My coffee tastes SO good with this French press. Coffee is also accessible in bulk or in sustainable recyclable or compostable packages. You can grind up your coffee for the French press at most stores or in the comfort of your own home if you have a coffee grinder.
2. Bulk Shampoo and Conditioner or Shampoo Bars
Ever notice how many bottles of shampoo and conditioner that one household goes through each year? Plenty of bulk stores offer shampoo and conditioner that you can fill up in your own reusable containers.
If the bulk option isn’t your jam, shampoo bars are a great alternative. Lush has plenty of different options for shampoo bars. These shampoo bars last up to 80 washes and outlast two to three bottles of their liquid counterpart. The ingredients used are natural and non-toxic which is so amazing when we live in a world where toxic ingredients like parabens are FDA approved in our products.
3. Toothpaste Tabs
Toothpaste is really easy to make zero waste, which is surprising because the tubes are so disposable. One way to “zero waste” your toothpaste is by making it yourself. There are so many different recipes online. Lauren from Trash is for Tossers has a super simple and easy recipe that she has been using for years. Check it out by clicking here.
If making toothpaste isn’t your thing, there are alternative packaging options. Toothy tabs are up and coming. I got my first toothy tabs from Lush. All you have to do is wet your toothbrush, crunch it up in your teeth and then brush. A couple of the options out there include Bite and Georganics.
4. Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Cup
This is such a simple swap that most people are already doing it. However, 60 million plastic water bottles are still used every day in the US alone. This doesn’t account for the plastic cups you might get your iced latte in, or even cups from fast food which are usually not recyclable.
Most places will allow you to use your own personal cup if you ask. Certain places will even give you a discount of a couple cents of your order. Plus, you will save lots of money in the long run when you save $1 or $2 here and there when you would’ve bought a single-use plastic bottle in a pinch.
5. Reusable grocery and produce bags
I’m not a fan of produce bags! So many fruits come in their own type of packaging. It makes it seem so silly to put bananas, oranges, or similar fruit with a peel into a plastic bag and then into your cart. Eventually you will just take off the peel anyways and the fruit will not have been exposed to the cart or anything you put it on.
Even if a fruit or vegetable doesn’t have it’s own peel, reusable produce bags are such a nice alternative to the plastic found in most stores. There are lots of options that are handmade on Etsy! If stores do offer disposable produce bags, I appreciate that some places like trader joes are replacing their plastic bags with biodegradable and compostable options!
Like produce bags, reusable grocery bags are easy to take along with you. Plastic bags are way unnecessary and not as durable as their reusable counterparts. Many cities, at least in Washington, are even beginning to charge if you need plastic bags. $0.10 per bag begins to add up and with the average person using 365 per year, you may end up saving up to 40 or more!
6. UnPaper Towels
So many trees every year are turned into paper towels that are just used once and then disposed of. That is a lot of paper waste! Rags are the simple alternative that are super easy to reuse. Even though paper towels come from a renewable source if it is properly maintained, so much energy goes into producing them.
If you like the convenience of a paper towel being within reach, Etsy has a variety of “unpaper” or paperless towels that you can even stick on your countertop holder. It’s pretty cool and super easy to toss them in the laundry after.
7. Safety Razor
I hadn’t realized before I started to research zero waste, but there are razors that don’t need the monthly replaceable razor head and aren’t made of plastic. Introducing (if you didn’t know about these before)… the safety razor.
But seriously, why aren’t these more mainstream? A one-time payment of $25 or so and just the regular maintenance so it doesn’t rust. Razor heads are SO expensive and disposable. Plus these look so chic!
I just ordered mine. I watched this video by Sedona Christina where she tested out a safety razor for the first time. She had great things to say about it and it got me on board.
8. Dryer Balls
If you’re looking for an alternative to spending lots of money every year on dryer sheets that just get thrown away after one use, here is the perfect answer. Dryer balls are usually made of wool (which is not vegan) and all you have to do is put a couple drops of your favorite essential oils on them and toss them into your dryer. They will not damage your dryer. You can click here to buy a plastic-free packaging set on Amazon. Usually dryer balls aren’t made vegan, however I did find one on Etsy here.
9. Reusable Containers
Most people already have these in their homes. I love the glass Pyrex containers, even though they have plastic lids. These are also BPA free and never leak! Since they are heavy, I am going to look into getting a stainless steel alternative that are much lighter. However, I don’t have the greatest need to bring my food on the go with me currently so I probably won’t invest for awhile. I will probably snag a set if I see one at a thrift shop, though.
Ditch the single-use Ziploc bags and opt for a reusable container!
10. Compostable Dish Brush
To replace your disposable sponge, these dish brushes are the perfect solution. You can replace the head on them after enough wear and compost the old one! The bristles are made with plant fiber so they are vegan.
They do require proper maintenance, however all you really have to do is use lukewarm water, towel blot and airdry. These brushes can’t soak in water or funky things happen.
There are so many ways that only 10 swaps for a zero waste life truly can’t cover it all. Going ‘zero waste’ really doesn’t have to cost you any extra money and can help the environment, your health, and animal welfare so much in the long run. Even one switch can have an impact! If you do what you can, that is enough. 🙂
Those are my Swaps for a Zero Waste Life! How do you reduce your waste? I’d Love to hear in the comments below!
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